Philosophy course listings, University of Vincennes 1969/70

According to a curious book, Christopher Driver’s The Exploding University – a journalist’s reflective late-60s tour of universities around the globe – the courses offered at the University of Vincennes as of 1969/70 were as follows:

  • La 3ème étape du marxisme-leninisme: le maoïsme (Judith Miller)
  • Problèmes concernant l’idéologie I (Judith Miller)
  • Problèmes concernant l’idéologie II (Jacques Rancière)
  • Théorie de la 2ème étape du marxisme léninisme: le concept du stalinisme (Jacques Rancière)
  • Introduction aux marxistes du XXème siècle: (1) Lenine, Trotsky, et le courant bolchévique (Henri Weber)
  • (2) Les écrits de Mao Tsé Toung (Henri Weber)
  • La dialectique marxiste (Alain Badiou)
  • La science dans la lutte des classes (Alain Badiou)
  • Problèmes de la pratique révolutionnaire (Jeannette Colombel)
  • L’idéologie pédagogique (René Scherrer)
  • Logique (Houria Sinaceur)
  • Epistémologie des sciences exactes et des mathématiques (Houria Sinaceur)
  • Epistémologies des sciences de la vie (Michel Foucault)
  • Pb. épistemologiques des sciences historiques (François Chatelet)
  • Critique de la pensée spéculative grecque (François Chatelet)
  • Nietzsche (histoire et genéalogie) (Michel Foucault)
  • Les idéologies morales d’aujourd’hui (Françoise Regnault)
  • A propos de la littérature et del’art (François Regnault)
  • Le signe chez Nietzsche (François Rey)

I emphasize that there are two courses on Maoism, a course not on Stalinism but on the concept of Stalinism, two courses on Nietzsche, a class on “today’s moral ideologies,” and a class on the problems of revolutionary practice. Hélène Cixous, one of the initial administrators of the university (which was an educational experiment that began in January 1969), is quoted as having said the following about her selection of personnel:

I knew many of them, especially psychoanalysts and philosophers — people like Lacan and Derrida. Manyn of them were teaching outside the universities. They were excluded because they were leftists, though the political criteria were never made explicit. They were delighted to be offered an audience. Michel Foucault, for instance, I stopped on his way to America…

What’s being said here in passing is that the French university system did in fact exclude teachers based on their political stance. In fact, the Ministry of Education refused to grant degrees to graduates of this philosophy department, citing differences with its “pedagogical philosophy.” No American university, surely, has ever offered a list of philosophy courses quite like this one. The best comparison might be the School of Criticism and Theory at Cornell, or perhaps History of Consciousness at Santa Cruz, where courses include “French Hegel,” “Critical Theory in the Marxist Tradition,” and the like. A real history of the institutionalization of leftist politics and theory – not nearly so hegemonic as the right wing makes it out to be, but not without its well-built enclaves – remains to be written.

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